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SHELTERING IN THE UNDERGROUND IN WORLD WAR 11
A TALK TO THE HISTORY SOCIETY

APRIL 20TH 2018
BY ALAN WILLIAMS


This was a very well researched and illuminating talk on the use of the underground stations for protection during the war.
In anticipation of German bombing raids on London and other key cities the Government had built some shelters.
They assumed at first that raids would happen in the daytime, be of short duration and use gas.
However it soon became clear that they were going to happen predominately at night, last for a long time, and not use gas.


At first, the Government forbade the practice of using the stations but it became increasingly clear that the scale of the bombing that was unleashed was such, that it was inevitable that the underground would have to be used. More and more Londoners took to spending the night in the stations and at the peak of the bombing, thousands were taking their bedding and most precious documents and trying to get what sleep they could. It could not have been a pleasant experience. People were packed in on the platforms like sardines with no privacy, and no toilet facilities.

As time went on the authorities began to arrange for food and drink to be on offer and some rudimentary bed structures were provided. We were shown a number of photographs which tried to give the impression that it was a fun experience and there was a short film of Arthur Askey singing a cheery song while he was getting up in the morning. Morale had to be kept up.


It is undeniable that sheltering the underground stations must have saved thousands of lives. Many who emerged in the morning would have found their homes reduced to rubble as the raids intensified. Only one station took a direct hit and that was caused by a V2 missile as late as 1944 . There would simply not been enough shelters to protect Londoners without the use of these stations.


 

 

 

Shoreham And District
Historical Society
Affiliated to
The Shoreham Society
The Kent History Federation and
The Kent Archaeological Society

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January 7, 2019

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